How To UnGrump Yourself
Welcome to An Owner’s Guide for Your Life, the podcast that combines psychology, coaching, common sense and fun. I’m Tracey Browning, an entrepreneur, life coach, and lover of people. Now let’s talk about how to live, love, make money and change the world.
Hey, I’m glad you’re here. I wasn’t glad you were here a little while ago. I wasn’t glad I had a podcast. I wasn’t glad I had work to do. I was just grumpy grumpy, grumpy, grumpy for a good bit of today, but I’m not going to whine and complain here. No, I am not.
I’m going to talk to you about how I have ungrumped myself, and I’m going to make that an official term- ungrump. I’m going to ungrump myself and I’m going to let you in on how to do it so you can do it, too.
Here’s what’s going on. My house is like, really cluttered and messy, and it’s not ordinarily this cluttered and messy. And I realized that I am really, really ticked off about this. And what I turned to is a lady by the name of Byron Katie. I like her work. She even calls it ”The Work”- do the work and the work seems so simple.
I’m just going to tell you, it’s four basic questions that you work through. So here are the questions. You take a situation, and I’m going to walk you through my specific situation. But you take a situation and make some statements and you work through the statements and you ask yourself four questions.
Is it true? Can you absolutely know it’s true? What would happen or what does happen when you believe that it’s true? And who would you be without the thought that you believe is true?
So is it true? Can you absolutely know it’s true what happens when you believe the thought? And who would you be without the thought? So I wrote down some statements. The purpose of this isn’t, like, to beat yourself up or feel guilty. I wasn’t overly beating myself up, that I was feeling grumpy and just completely out of sorts. But here’s the statement I decided I would work with that I am complaining about. I have a cluttered, messy house because there’s a lot of extra stuff in it right now.
If you’ve listened to the podcast for a little while, my father-in-law passed away. My husband is executor of his estate. My husband and sister-in-law, we’re working through, we’re basically dismantling an entire household and a life with all the stuff. Some stuff- it’s easy to just go, yeah, that needs to go on. We need to sell this. But then there are some things, there are some things that have sentimental value. There’s some things that are very useful. Household supplies. There’s pictures, there’s medals, there’s certificates, there’s just different stuff.
And then there’s also the boxes of my Christmas stuff that we stored at his house in an outbuilding that I’ve had to bring home. So we brought in all the boxes of my Christmas stuff, and I don’t usually start decorating for Christmas, I don’t put my tree up, I don’t put my decorations up until the weekend after Thanksgiving. Well, we’re a week ahead of that.
What I decided to do is put my tree up, start the decorations and go through and kind of winnow out like I do every year. Do I still want to keep this? Do I want to move that on, that kind of thing?
But what that led to is then where am I going to store the boxes? So then we had to unpack one of our storage closets, and then we had to unpack another storage closet. So all of a sudden it looks like all my closets have vomited out into my house. There’s stuff all over the place, and I don’t quite have it all put up yet.
So back to my simple thought, my simple statement of “I have a cluttered, messy house because there’s stuff everywhere”. So let’s go through the four questions. Is it true? Well, my immediate reaction is, of course it’s true. There’s clutter and a messy house. There’s stuff everywhere. I can walk out and see it. I’m walking out and bumping into it. Wait a minute. Okay.
So who defines cluttered and messy? So smart alecky me, I thought, “Well, there’s not a clutter scale”. Well, guess what?
There is a clutter scale. I found it. It’s a clutter image rating scale that people who work with hoarding disorder have devised. So there is a clutter scale. I glanced at it. I feel better, and I knew I wasn’t a hoarder, and I know that my brain is being overly dramatic, and I’ll get to a little bit more about that in a minute.
So is it true that my house is cluttered and messy? Well, my first reaction is, yes, of course it’s true simply because that’s what I’ve been telling myself. But is it legitimately true? Can I absolutely know that it’s true? And here’s where it gets interesting.
If you take the approach of being a little light hearted and fun with it, which is hard to do when you’re grumpy, depressed and want to lash out. But deep breath, be a little lighthearted with it. My whole house is not cluttered and messy. There are no dishes in my kitchen sink. Okay, so then I started thinking about, well, are there other spots? My bathroom is not cluttered and messy. I cleaned it the other day and it’s really shiny and nice. So I was going through going, well, okay, the whole house isn’t cluttered and messy. So maybe it’s not absolutely true.
So brain, who wants to be overly dramatic and go, oh, it’s cluttered and messy, and there’s all this stuff will rein it in all of my house isn’t. And looking at the clutter image scale. All right. I’m not a hoarder status. I’m okay, I’m doing it right there.
But let’s play with this a little bit more. Can I say, no, it’s not true and really mean it? Maybe if I just put the word ‘temporarily’, my house is temporarily cluttered and messy. Wow. Just putting temporarily in there. I feel so much better. There’s so much relief, because do I realistically know this is not a permanent state? Yes, but it doesn’t feel like that when I look around and tell myself cluttered and messy, look at all this stuff. And what if I go a step further and say, all right, it’s cluttered and messy because of the blessing or the abundance of stuff that I have. Look at that, playing with our words and the way we think about things. Okay. When I think about it as a blessing and an abundance, then I don’t want to call it cluttered and messy.
Now, what I also know is it’s not just the stuff. It’s not the physical stuff that’s making me feel cluttered and messy. It’s the emotional processing that’s happening. We’re still grieving. And what’s really apparent is that we’re not just grieving for the passing of my father-in-law. We’re also kicking back in and grieving for my mother-in-law, who passed six years ago because this is her stuff, too.
So when we’re looking, we pulled a casserole dish out of the cabinet and everybody went, “Potato salad!” She always had potato salad in that dish. In one pot , “Chicken and dumplings”. Yes. So there’s sweetness and just precious memories with things. But there’s a lot of emotion going on here. So it’s not just the physical stuff. It’s the emotional things happening.
And that’s just from going, “Hey, is this thought true? Can you absolutely know it’s true?” Look at everything I’m unpacking here and how much better I already feel going, well, maybe that’s not exactly true.
The other question is, what happens when I believe this thought? Well, it’s obvious what happens when I believe that my house is cluttered and messy because of all the stuff. I turn into a grumpy, snarly person. I’m lashing out. I’m stressed, I’m not productive at all. I start catastrophizing. I mean, I can go from zero to 60 catastrophe just in the blink of an eye. Oh, my gosh. There’s so much stuff. I’m never going to get it put away. I’m never going to. Really? That’s not true.
Who would I be if I weren’t thinking this thought? Well, I’d be productive. I’d be more relaxed and be more hopeful. I’d be enjoying my life a good bit more. My family would be really appreciative if I didn’t walk back out and snarl at them because of things that have not found their home just yet.
So that’s an example, kind of a messy example, of how to work through Byron Katie’s work. The four questions. Is it true? Can you absolutely know it’s true? What happens when you believe that thought? And who would you be without that thought?
Now she also throws in this thing. You can turn the thought around. And I’ve kind of implicitly done that as I’ve worked through it. Turn it around. My house is cluttered and messy because of all the stuff in the house. Flip that around. Maybe it’s not the house. Maybe it’s I’m cluttered and messy, which is really much more of a truth. I’m feeling cluttered and messy. My emotions are cluttered and messy, and, of course, they are because that’s part of what grieving does. That’s part of what having to make a lot of decisions does. I mean, what I didn’t go into is that the stuff I’m pulling out of my own closets- it’s emotional pictures and awards and things for my immediate family, too. So all of a sudden, I’m having to make more emotional decisions about sentimental things.
And one realization I’ve had about myself is that I’m not walking as lightly on the earth as I thought I was. And that made me a little bit sad to realize that, too.
Anyway, Byron Katie’s “The Work”. Is it true? Can you absolutely know it’s true? What happens when you believe it’s true? And who would you be without that thought? It has helped me ungrump myself. I highly recommend it now.
Thank you so much for listening. Let’s go now and live, love, make some money and change the world.
For a transcript of this episode or for more information about life and mindset coaching, visit my website https://www.tbrowning.com/.